Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
by Rev. Buddy A. Larrier
The formal announcement by the government on Friday, October 23 that the Nelson statue will be removed on the International Day of Tolerance November 16 is of great concern to the Non-State Actors Reparations Commission and those of us who understand history.
To remove the historic statue of 207 years that symbolises white supremacy (Racism) on the International Day for Tolerance will be sending conflicting messages to the world by giving the impression that the same level of tolerance being ask for in relation to same gender (sex) union and possible same gender marriage should also apply to white supremacy.
It is most likely that until Friday, October 23 very few Barbadians if any would have been aware of an International Day of Tolerance, I did not, and most people do not know of its origin.
Here are some facts, the date for Tolerance was adopted by a United Nations’ resolution in 1996, which was twofold (a) to challenge the intolerance surrounding persons advocating for same gender union and marriages so that they be tolerated as Barbadians are being ask as the government is seeking to have a referendum on the issue, and of which even Pope Francis has now consented to support and (b) to pacify the black people of South Africa who wanted radical change following the release of Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Therefore, when the third UN world conference against racism was being planned for 2001 to be held in South Africa the UN cleverly included intolerance for the conference theme that became; “Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance”.
However, our people of African descent that were in attendance did not discuss or focus on the matter of related intolerance. We were concerned about Reparations for the injustices we have been enduring for the past 500 plus years.
We won a resounding victory as the consensus of the conference was that the transatlantic trade in Africans, chattel enslavement and colonialism were all crimes against humanity.
Therefore, today the Non-State Actors Reparations Commission along with all people that are conscious about the state of affairs with the Reparations Movement would agree that for Barbados to remove the Nelson statue on the International Day for Tolerance would be a betrayal and an insult to the liberation struggle for not really honouring the memories of the enslaved ancestors and all those who won the victory at the UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001 as the war against white supremacy continues.
The Nelson statue is the world’s most recognised monument of white supremacy as it was the first such monument erected in Barbados during the enslavement period in 1813 in this our country that passed the first Slave Code Act in 1661 that in law allowed African people to be treated as chattel – less than human being.
The government has justifiably announced that Barbados will move to Republican status by November 2021, which according to the Australian historian Professor Jenny Hocking could lead to a chain reaction across the Commonwealth.
The fact that Barbados is correcting a decision made at independence in 1966 when it did not become a Republic it should likewise do the right thing in the historic process of repairing the damage caused by the erection of the Nelson statue of 1813. The symbol of white supremacy (Racism) should not be seen as intolerance; white supremacy is a crime against humanity.
The appropriate date for the removal of the Nelson statue should really be April 14 as this is the date in 1816 that enslaved Barbadians started their rebellion against the psychology of racism symbolised by the statue. If the revolution was successful the first order of business would have been to take down the statue.
Therefore, there can be no logical justification or consideration for taking down the Nelson statue on the International Day for Tolerance November 16. What is also very disappointing is that there are some persons who are considered leaders within the Pan-African Movement that for reasons which are not clear seek to justify treating the symbol of white supremacy as intolerance.
Barbados is presently leading the world on advancing the cause for Reparations and is also on a trajectory of a new dispensation in governance as we will commemorate the 400th anniversary of colonial rule in 2027.Yes, it can be said that Barbadians are gullible but the government should not compromise the commission given by God and remove the Nelson statue that symbolises white supremacy and equate that symbol with same gender union by removing it on the International Day for Tolerance. It should be removed on an International day that sends a strong message to the world to help undo the evil of the transatlantic trade in Africans and chattel enslavement, either of the following date will suffice:-
• January 1, Haiti’s revolution victory, which represent to the first black free society during the period of Afrikans enslavement;
• April 14, which represents the greatest slave uprising in Barbados’ history;
• August 23, UNESCO’ date for the remembrance of slavery and it abolition; and
• October 12, which represents the spiritual war between Afrikans and Caucasians.
The UN celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, what a difference it would have made if the Nelson statue was taken down on any of the dates above in particular on October 12 as was proposed for over 20 years.
However, as it was not taken down, and we can conclude that the enslaved ancestors in Barbados of the 19th Century want the date most suitable for the statue to be removed to be April 14 to honour the heroic attempt of their battle in the Bussa rebellion and the hundreds that lost their lives resulting from that attempt to have the statue removed back in 1816.
The NsARC is therefore appealing to the government to honour our ancestors and the persons presently fighting against white supremacy.
Do not insult us by removing the Nelson statue on the International Day for Tolerance. We are also asking Barbadians not to be complacent and let this happen without voicing their objections as you may have to face the consequences.
Rev. Buddy A. Larrier
For the NsARC.